10 Tips for Giving and Receiving Good Feedback

by Omar Aysha, January 25, 2012

Sebastien Trzcinksi-Clement, the MENA Developer Relations Lead at Google, knows a thing or two about developing a good relationship with your network, whether that includes customers, colleagues, or employers. The bedrock of these good relationships is feedback. These are the tips for giving and receiving feedback, that he presented at Startup Weekend Cairo 2012:

Giving Good Feedback:

  1. A good critic spends as much energy describing what something is as what something isn’t. So make yourself stand out by making any criticism constructive and useful.
  2. Offer youe criticism, commentary, or advice without attaching negative energy.
  3. Remember that good and bad are not the same as like and dislike, so keep your personal taste out and be objective.
  4. Valid criticism doesn’t mean that the work can be fixed, or is worth fixing, so be aware of this when offering feedback.
  5. If the receiving party is thin-skinned, sandwich negative comments between positive ones, taking a "positive, negative, positive" approach.

Receiving Feedback Well:

  1. Think before you respond. Thinking takes time, so don’t rush.
  2. Don’t be defensive. Feel free to ask clarifying questions.
  3. If you agree with a criticism but can’t think of a fix, ask for a suggestion.
  4. Take control of the feedback process by asking for feedback in a structured way so that you can deal with it systematically.
  5. Not all feedback is useful. There’s a lot of BS out there, so find out who you get the best feedback from and pick them as your feedback partners.

Why put in the effort to give and receive feedback well?

By being honest and helpful, to ourselves and others, we:

  1. Improve what we do.
  2. Become more credible.
  3. Demonstrate our uniqueness and humanity.
  4. Expand our business opportunities.
  5. Never have to worry about being caughtlying.
  6. Create a healthy and trustful network.
  7. Find people who want to work with us.
  8. Generate loyalty, sales, and learning.
  9. Make genuine friends.

--

Omar Aysha is a former video-game developer, turned IT entrepreneur and  writer, who is launching an Egyptian entrepreneurship magazine.

 
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Said Hamideh , Thu 26.01.2012
Thanks for this much, much needed post. Too many prima donnas out there in the audience only want to give ego-driven feedback for the sole purpose of wanting to prove how smart or wise they are when it comes to matters of entrepreneurship.

Half the time I wonder how many of these people even have the experience or data to back up their claims. What bothers me the most is when categorical pronouncements that idea x or idea y "never work". Um...must every case study replicate itself across the board for eternity? Me thinks not.
And isn't entrepreneurship sometimes about proving tested theories wrong?

I feel that very few ideas deserve to be thrown in the trash in the way you see some audience members doing it via Twitter, etc.. In my opinion, some ideas are simply more palatable and less risk-prone to the investor's wallet than others. Perhaps if there was less of an obsession about making instant returns on investment, then the Arab World might yield investors that are open to less conventional and commercially straightforward start-up ideas.